Agra Mayor regrets for not being able to present 'key of Agra' to Donald Trump
Agra, Feb 25: A ceremonial silver "key of Agra" was planned to be presented to US President Donald Trump during his visit to the historic city on Monday but it could not be gifted to him due to security constraints, Mayor Naveen Jain said.
The 12-inch key, made of silver, weighs 600 g and has copper engravings of Taj Mahal and the name of the city, he said. "As a mayor of the city, on behalf of the people of Agra, I wanted to present President Trump the 'key of Agra' on his arrival here. But due to security constraints I could not enter the Kheria airbase where he was received by the state's CM and governor. We really wanted to gift him this ceremonial key but could not," Jain told PTI.
Nonetheless, it is a matter of great pride that the world's most powerful leader visited Agra and saw the iconic Taj Mahal, the pride of India, he said. And indeed, Trump may not have been able to receive the 'key of Agra' but he and his family unlocked the beauty of Agra by visiting the celebrated monument of love, the famed 17th century mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
The US President and First Lady Melania Trump were given a special tour of the heritage complex, as the couple entered beautifully carved doors and gateways during their visit, with the guide virtually transporting them to the Mughal-era with the fascinating stories behind the Taj.
The mayor said it is a traditional gesture to welcome a high-profile guest or a head of state with a ceremonial key.
"We hand over a 'key of Agra' to the guest symbolically to open the 'door of Agra' and enter the city. Many guests have been shown that gesture in the past," Jain said.
In 2000, the then president Bill Clinton also was to be presented with a ceremonial key of Agra. Baby Rani Maurya, current Governor of Uttarakhand was the mayor of Agra at that time, he said.
"The key is 12-inch long and weighs 600 grams. It has the impression of Taj Mahal on it and 'Welcome to Agra' engraved on it. We got it designed in Delhi," Jain said. The city administration had made massive arrangement for Trump's short visit in Agra on Monday evening, giving Agra a makeover in a very short span of time. The city administration sought to present the "best face of Agra" to Trump.
Streets were spruced up, walls beautified with thematic paintings and the lawns of the iconic Taj Mahal bedecked with shimmering flowers for welcoming the US President. Trump was accompanied by his wife, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with his delegation. At many places, artworks greeting Trump were made by artists and water was being sprayed regularly to ensure there was no dust.
Victorian-style lampposts were installed in many areas to improve the aesthetic look of the city, especially along the nearly 13-km route that was taken by the US President's convoy.
Trump arrived in Agra on Monday evening around 4:30 pm after jointly attending with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the mega 'Namaste Trump' event at the newly-built Motera cricket stadium in Ahmedabad. Trump was received at the Kheria airbase by Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who also bid them farewell. He was gifted a framed photograph of him and the US First Lady standing in front of the Taj Mahal, by Adityanath at the airbase.
The US President's visit to Agra and Taj generated huge excitement among local residents. Some shops even displayed their own banners, welcoming Trump to India. After Dwight David Eisenhower (1959) and Bill Clinton (2000), Trump became the third US President to visit the 17th century architectural icon, and praised the architectural masterpiece.
"The Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian Culture!' Thank You, India," the US President and the first lady jointly wrote in the visitors' book before signing it.